‘Star Wars’ star fends off dinosaurs in Kisatchie National Forest-based film
VERNON PARISH, La. (KALB) - A familiar landscape in Central Louisiana left devastated by Category 4 Hurricane Laura is given new life in the upcoming film ‘65′ thanks to Sony Pictures.
Kisatchie National Forest experienced catastrophic damage from the hurricane, as it wiped out 256,000 acres of trees in 2020, taking with it $60 million worth of timber. Not to mention, the thousands of residents in Vernon Parish and further south whose homes were demolished and businesses flattened.
Now, that devastation is hitting the silver screen. In the depths of Kisatchie, Adam Driver’s character, Mills, crashes on Planet Earth after his spacecraft was hit by an asteroid. He fends for his life and protects one lone survivor from the prehistoric creatures wreaking havoc on Earth in the new sci-fi movie set 65 million years ago.
”We were looking at different sites, and one day, they said, ‘Do you have any blown down trees, any rootballs, any uprooted trees?’” explained Jim Caldwell, public affairs for Kisatchie National Forest. “I said, ‘Do I have a deal for you. Because, unfortunately, Hurricane Laura knocked down all of these trees we see around us.’ That was a terrific, unusual storm that really affected our national forest in a negative way, but sometimes you can find a silver lining there, and when they saw this, they said we’ve got to do some shooting here.”
The crash site did not need much help from editors, as the trees snapped in half, uprooted and strewn around on thousands of acres by Laura’s 149 mph winds fit the apocalyptic scene.
“We had just gone through Hurricane Laura here and lost all that timber in the forest,” said John Crook, executive director of the Vernon Parish Tourism Commission. “So, it kinda looked like a bomb went off.”
Though the film plays off of a disaster that cost many residents dearly, the blockbuster shoot gave way to a much-needed boost for the local economy.
Over the course of about six months, the area earned an estimated $1.5 million in revenue. That total came from sales within supply stores, set extras, site crew hires, rentals and the equivalent of eight years worth of hotel bookings over just a few months.
“You did have people lose a lot of money during and after the storm, and so that helped recoup a lot of money that they hadn’t anticipated getting at all,” said Crook.
Whether the investment was felt by residents first-hand, the excitement of hosting the production certainly was. Crook said hosting more films in the area is something they hope will happen soon.
Look for Kisatchie landmarks in ‘65′ in theaters starting March 10.
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